3 easy ways to keep the norovirus from infecting your family

Norovirus is the kind of bug you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. With symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea...

Norovirus is the kind of bug you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. With symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and fever you'll want to avoid it altogether, especially if you have small children. Because it's a virus, there is no vaccine, but there are a few things that you can do to help your family avoid getting it in the first place.

Hand washing
It's important to keep germs in check by washing your hands regularly. Good hand washing skills are key to keeping your children healthy all year round, so it's important to teach them as early as possible. Talk to them about the importance of washing their hands whenever they use the toilet and before handling or eating food.

If your child has trouble remembering to wash, consider finding some books to read together that discuss germs and the importance of being clean. Coming up with a funny song while you wash can also be encouraging and can help keep their attention focused on washing long enough to get their hands clean. Don't forget to wash your own hands well and make sure your children see you doing it, so they will pick up on your example.

It's impossible to know whether your home has been contaminated with the norovirus until someone in your family actually comes down with symptoms. So it's important to take precautions and clean regularly, especially during widespread outbreaks of the virus. Focus especially on sanitizing surfaces that may be more prone to contamination, like the bathroom and kitchen. Cleaning often can be hard to squeeze into a hectic schedule, so try keeping some sanitizing wipes that contain bleach in handy spots, so that you can wipe down counters, faucets and doorknobs as much as possible.

Isolate the virus
If you or one of your family members does come down with norovirus, it's important to stay away from work or school to avoid exposing others to the virus. Though it's very likely that if one family member comes down with the virus others will too, there are still steps you can take to help protect everyone else. The most important thing is to sanitize with bleach any areas that have been infected through vomit. You should step up all hand washing and sanitizing. Be sure to watch young children carefully. They are still prone to putting things in their mouths, so sanitize any shared toys that may be exposed.

If you are infected with the virus, your symptoms will likely clear up on their own with no treatment other than rest and hydration. However, for some, especially young children, older people, and those with preexisting conditions, it may cause life-threatening dehydration which should be treated immediately. Call your Atlanta-area doctor right away if you have any concerns.

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